Every so often, someone asks me…

Can panic hardware be painted in the field without voiding the label? 

This may be because the finish has been damaged, or because they want to change the finish/color without investing thousands of dollars in new hardware.  I understand the motivation, but it’s a risky undertaking.

Panic hardware is a labeled product, certified to comply with UL 305 – Standard for Panic Hardware, BHMA A156.3 – Standard for Exit Devices, and if it’s fire exit hardware, UL 10C – Standard for Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assemblies.  These products can not be modified in any way that would impact the listings.

While painting over the existing finish may seem like a pretty benign modification, it could affect the operation of the device…did you ever try to open an old window that had been painted shut?  Because there’s no way to know whether or not field painting would affect the performance of the panic hardware, the listing labs do not have an official protocol and as a manufacturer, we can’t authorize field painting.  It’s possible that an AHJ could approve it, but a painted finish is not likely to hold up well even if it doesn’t have a negative affect on egress.

For new applications where a custom color is desired, Von Duprin offers over 150 custom powder coat finishes as well as custom graphics (see page 9 of this pdf). 


UPDATE:  Several readers have asked me about the  white panic hardware on the white door in the photo above, and whether this is “readily distinguishable” as an egress door.  This opening was on one of my museum projects, along with grey panic hardware on a stainless steel door in a stainless steel elevator lobby.  I questioned it, but it was allowed by the AHJ.  I posted about it back in 2011…time flies when you’re having fun!

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